A sketel can be defined as:
A promiscuous female
A woman whose character is defamed and shamed through misogynist and sexist interpretations of her body that express a particular [patriarchal] social order based on the devaluing of women.
Carnival gives us so much insight into our society and ourselves. I could not help but notice the desire for masqueraders to parade for the spectacle of Samsung selfies over the creation of spectacle for street spectators, onlookers who came to see the “The Greatest Show in the World”. I could not help but think of the narrative that Carnival is a revolutionary space for sexual liberation; however, freedom always finds a way to (re) define a particular feminine ideal – think High Heel Masqueraders and Mobile Make-Up stations.
All in all people have the freedom to express themselves, pay dey money and play mas – that is not my quarrel. What I am here to do is speak through the traditions – Kerwin Du Bois’ Bacchanalist, Ricardo Drue Vagabond, big brother of Destra Garcia Lucy, great grandson of Drupatee Ramgoonai Chatnee Soca and Calypso Rose Fire In Me Wire. I, local sketel, am outraged.
I am outraged when a foreign sketel, Amber Rose has paid press coverage in her “tour-de-Port-of-Spain”, stars on the front page on a national newspaper, is put to stand/dance/wine/pose next to Machel Montano, Carnival King, as if there is equivalence in their achievements. I’ve heard about a trophy wife but it must take a Trini to invent a trophy tourist.
Amber Rose, American hip-hop celebrity, transformed her early story of performing striptease under the name of “Paris” to the spotlight of modeling, cultural entrepreneurship and major endorsements that landed her the money, Kanye and Wiz. The thing is, our obsession with Amber is not just the career-we-don’t-really-know-about; not just her beautiful gold boil egg shaped bald head; and bumcee photos/vines for the “amazing lives” of Instagram followers; our obsession is that she is a sketel from the United States of America – a foreign sketel. Thanks to the Daily Express [Wednesday 18th February 2015] we now know that foreign sketel does make Front Page in this “post “colonial island of Trinidad and Tobago. So, in our colonized and Americanized minds, Amber Rose represents “we reach” in the global village where validation always comes from outside.
Local sketel does make page 9, page 10, and make dustbin paper that is never published. When local sketel make front-page papers, she getting shame. Isn’t that a damn shame? Carnival 2015 has offered us key examples of how our T&T treats local sketels. Take for example, the current legal conflict between West Indian cricketer Lendl Simmons and Therese Ho. In a society that does not have provisions to deal with “revenge pornography”, legislation on confidentiality and privacy insufficiently treats “sharing pictures with de boyz” as a crime. The lack of legislation allows for us to drown in the sea of irrelevant [insert: Facebook Comment] discussions that silence crimes against women when we retreat to the rum talk: “one night ting” “she trying to bring man down” “shez not he gyal”. Kinda shocked Chris Brown did not come down for Trinbago Carnival #Loyal. The only message this sends to the nation, as my academic mentor made clear to me over coffee – women are unprotected in T&T and they are also unprotected by the State. Now de local sketel have to get injunction, have to dodge the hate mail, have to make front page with yuh picture and name there and because she last name perfect for Kaiso, while we watch de man play cricket for the world to see. Dis local sketel know however that off-the field, you cannot support him…
Too many local sketels to talk about but dey “snapshottin” de local sketel more and more…so I go talk about the last local sketel who make front page. Ravina Rampersad is the local sketel Trinidad and Tobago loves to hate. In a country that glosses over its racial divisions and subscribes to class pretensions Dr. Keith Rowley was guilty of being an African (‘black’) man dancing with Ravina Rampersad an Indian woman. Bringing up her age, as bloggers did, only explained the gender ideologies that confine women’s sexuality and young women’s sexuality and Indo-Trinidadian women sexuality. So, the local sketel knew that de ole talk was more than just a politicized affair; it in fact was racialised and gendered. Bringing up a functionalist interpretation of family and trying to locate the picture with Dr. Rowley and “de way his wife must be feel” further tells us how much we are alien to the peculiarities of Caribbean culture. Thank you Mr. Ivan Kalicharan for speaking up and the rest of Facebookers with a conscience who knew that that beating up on a 17 year-old in cyber space was more evidence of our collective schizophrenia and politics of the day than declining moral values in Trinidad and Tobago.
The truth of the matter is that you have the right to wine, look sexy, bruk out half naked, and take pictures regardless if you choose not to carry yourself that way as an individual. On the contrary, we do not have the right to shame, send hate mail, and divide our people against each other because of our prejudice.
For this reason, I with the page 9 sketel and the front-page local sketels who on trial in the court of public patriarchal opinion, dis Carnival.
Now, H. Y. M. C
…Have Your Mind Checked
For those interested in following more on the Caribbean feminist and gender justice scene – take een:
1. Dr. Gabrielle Hosein, University Lecturer (my supervisor and mentor) – grrlscene
2. Dr. Tonya Haynes, University Lecturer and Founder – CODE RED for gender justice!
Great article! I hate to whine, but the act of winding one’s waist should be spelt “wine”.
Changes made Martin. Many thanks.
This was an amazing article. Appreciate people speaking out about these issues.
Trinidad and Tobago is a country, not an island.
Fabulous read !
Enjoyed reading this article. In today’s world whether we like it or not, marketing of a person, service or product is done with calculated risks. It is done with an attempt to get the media to sensationalize whatever is put out there and to get the population whether local or international to take it further. Perfect example is the film: 50 Shades of Grey which is raking in the money. It is all about the mighty dollar because everyone who is involved are now smiling all the way to the bank.
The “people” have the power to make or break a marketing campaign.
Amber Rose will be smiling all the way to the bank but unfortunately, Ravina Rampersad will not be smiling.
Well said…Nuff said.
i would like to come down to Trinidad for carnival but I’m not sure exactly wen & where it takes place
Excellent article. I have to agree with everything 100%. A friend of mine and I were speaking on similar issues just this morning before I stumbled upon your piece. Again Excellent! Your work should be published in all newspapers everyday to get TnT thinking……
Very interesting and thought jolting read would like to read more offerings from you, your different perspective on things is refreshing !!!!
On point article. We in T&T need to find the desire to lead and not follow. We need to stop looking for the next foreign guru and accepting things foreign that we shun locally.
Don’t you think you’re using the sketel to promote your article the same way the sketel was used to promote the fete “bae watch”
great article! def a must read..I am noy trinidadian but I am a woman who and i totally I understood your reason for writing this.
A possible reason for the local attention Amber Rose received is her international following; which people view as a means of advertising carnival to the masses and potential tourists. This would also be the reason for her being placed alongside Machel which could boost his international audience possibly. In comparison “local sketels” have no such international reach.
You live and let people live, Did she do anything to you no, she just came to enjoy herself as all the other tourists did. You ever think maybe you is deh sketal… Hmmmm
What a pack of bullshit.. I would like the author of this article to point out where race has been introduced into the discussion between Dr. Rowley and this girl. As far as I am concerned it the actual incident was a non-issue. Its carnival and that’s what happens. The response to the criticism is what is interesting.
What is disturbing though is that the criticism -unfair as it is- from some quarters is being interpreted through a racist lens.
The fact that the criticism is being perceived as having racist undertones is a passive aggressive technique which allows those spouting such nonsense free rein to spout their own racist thoughts.
I didn’t Look at her that way, i also didn’t Agree with alot in this Article but everyone is Entitled to their Opinion no matter how Screwed their Perception may be, i guess. Good Thing Americans aren’t so Judgemental for every Little Thing like Trinbagonians do or else Anya Ayoung Chee might not have been able to take part in the Project Runway because she’s a “Sketel”. The Only Thing need to be Checked is Ppl’s Mentality in this Place.
What gives you, one individual, the authority to speak for and about ‘We’? Moreover, to call some of we sketel, define sketel, and call Amber Rose a sketel? That is not even to mention the generic ideological feminist analyses and conclusions of this article. You obviously have some sort of following, but your article circulated outside your circle, among people who see through its offensive, assembly line commentary.
Why can’t we just be glad the country is getting the publicity that it deserves. Every year we have more and more foreign celebrities participating in our festival, which for me means more income. Local Sketels cannot do anything forbus. Trinidad and Tobago depends on Tourism and Carnival is a big part of it. Thanks Amber for your participation, now go on and bring your other Sketel friends from the USA next year.
Chad, his provocative use of the word “sketel” indeed was for the promotion of the article and it was brilliant!!! Got the whole world (social media) talking. All we need now is for them to read the rest of the article and consume the reality before us that has been generally ignored
This is uncalled for an very disrespectful … sir she is a world class celebrity … she is know for her over sexual image and style . She is a model…… When u people do things it reflects bad on out country cause every one always has something negative to say yes her behavior was a bit loud but it’ was carnival and who’s was not ……… take this down
What’s that smell? Hate? First of all, your article is GARBAGE as neither you nor I know Ms Rose. To call someone names and demean her character is just plain irresponsible and gossip-esqe. Then you have these insecure readers on your bandwagon. Shame on all of you. She made front page because she’s a beauty who is admired by a crap load of people and isn’t that what cacarnival is these days? She came to our country to experience one of our great contributions to the world and this is what she gets? Go read a book
Make meh vex.
Thank you for expressing my thoughts exactly. When I heard that Amber was headlining an event in Trinidad my first question was ” what does she do?” I guess the foreign sketel has more value since it was Made in the US no regard for quality. Quite frankly I see no offense in pairing her with Machel on the front page in light of his sub-standard behavior that has become routine.
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